Surrounded by Patriots memorabilia, 90-year-old Rose Small feels each victory and defeat of the men she calls her “boys” from her Pats-clad living room.

Small herself was adorned in a Patriots championship shirt with team pins and a button reading “number one Patriots fan.”

“Come on, Belichick,” Small urged at the sight of the Patriot coach’s trademark scowl after a second Green Bay field goal inched the Packers another three points ahead.

Small credits her husband, Don, with introducing her to football and Patriots fandom. Though her husband passed away six years ago, Small still proudly displays the many pendants, clippings, glasses, pins, magnets, footballs and other collectibles that adorn each room.

In the impeccable apartment Small keeps, it’s as if a Patriots interior designer jumped in to assist with each room.

As Small would move from one room to the next, she would ask “remember these,” of a particular glass with the old logo printed on it, only to pause, a little choked up, following it with a memory of her husband.

“I’ve got to show you everything — oh, my little man,” Small stopped, turning on a singing and dancing football player about a foot high before spiking a small football that announced “Go Patriots” upon impact.

Pointing to a series of pictures leaning against her couch, “I used to put them up but my husband is not around,” she said. “They used to be higher up on the wall, but he’s not here so . . .” Small moved on to napkins, newspapers and a plush blanket her husband had bought.

“When you’re a fan, you’re a fan,” Small said. “Now what state in the nation has four teams?” Naming off the major professional sports teams based in Massachusetts, she said, “of course, we live here, we’ve got to protect them.”

Loyalty to the Patriots isn’t genetic however, as her daughter, Pam, was spending the evening rooting on Green Bay while another daughter, Pat, is a Dallas fan. “Well, she’s Dallas Cowboys —don’t talk to me about Dallas Cowboys,” Small said.

With the Patriots’ defense faltering early in the game, Small revealed the secret weapon up her sleeve.

Italian by heritage, Small extended her two hands, crossing her index and middle fingers and pointing them at the Packers’ offense in an old Italian hex.

Likewise, she demonstrated the blessing by extending her index fingers, thumbs and little fingers, resembling a heavy metal salute Ronnie James Dio would have been proud of.

Small said she gets herself quite worked up in anticipation of each game.

“I haven’t eaten — I can’t eat,” she said.

She said her usual Sunday schedule involves mass at Holy Family Church and going out to breakfast but that’s where Small’s nerves kick in, not allowing her to eat until she’s seen “her boys.”

“Look at Tom,” Small said. “Oh, I hope he gets it today — that’s a feather in his cap —he’s a darling.

“This is life and this is fun,” Small said, despite her many years as a legal secretary when her main focus was work, cooking and baking.

She said she had no idea how much she would love football until her children were grown and the pair returned to Maine from Florida in 2002.

“I thank him for bringing me into this because what would I do now,” Small said of her husband. “Patriots — that’s my life.”

The Patriots may have fallen short by five points Sunday. Small announced she was “crushed,” but rest assured she’ll be ready to rally for the next game.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: